Ghana’s FastCashier ready to take on Paypal and Mint in Africa
As mobile and broadband penetration rally upwards at an exponential rate in Africa, personal finance software industry is ripe for disruption by upcoming startups. While most personal finance software looks at connecting with the bank history, which is clearly nothing but reconciliation, the startup we are talking about here believes personal finance software should be personal and offline. That the software should allow your data to reside on your machine. Using internet should be optional; it shouldn’t require an internet login to access the software. That is what FastCashier Advisor does. The option to backup and restore over the cloud is available at a nominal fee.
The product vision
FastCashier was built on a vision to create an environment where there is open accountability of payment system that will allow people to receive and pay using simple software. They are also integrating bitcoin to their Checkout API and Invoicing so that users can pay with bitcoins. FastCashier has been approved by Bitpay at the moment and they are in the process of integration.
Crossing technical hurdles
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to code. As long as you have an idea that solves a problem,” Derrick Agyiri (Founder & CEO) learnt very early. Initially, Derrick had thought he would create his own software using MS Access and Excel. But soon, he realized that he needed a programmer to code the software. He scouted on Elance and got a team together. It was an expensive process but in the last three years, the programmers he hired have come to love his product and have been constantly updating the software to perfection. This gave birth to their first platform FastCashier Wallet. This Wallet allows businesses or consumers with an email address to securely, conveniently and cost-effectively send and receive payments online.
Setting up shops across the globe
FastCashier was forced to go beyond the borders of Ghana due to payment infrastructure constraints at home ground. For example, FastCashier Canada Inc. was created to allow mobile applications to receive revenue from the AppStore, Blackberry App World and Google Play. Similarly, FastCashier Europe Limited was created because about 30% of their customers were in Europe.
Building a team
The ability to build a strong team around an idea is a sign of a good founder. Simply put, it shows that the founder was able to sell the concept to his team and that makes it saleable to the rest of the world as well. FastCashier has six directors – all of them unpaid so far.
1. Derrick Agyiri: Founder and CEO
2. Emmanuel Miah: Director of Canada and Chairman
3. Gloria Oppong: Strategic Director
4. Winifred hMensa: General Manager
5. Paa Grant Appiah: Business Development Director
6. Precious Amengah: Director for Marketing and Branding
7. Naa Ashirifia: Director of Operations
Each of them brought in key expertise in different aspects of the business. It is to Derrick’s credit that in this short span he was able to attract and retain great talent, vital to a good organization. “They all trust my vision and are ready to run with it. The risk they took is out of friendship and my credibility of delivering,” Derrick says. He gave them a sweat equity of 30% in total. “I believe that owning a small percentage in a giant company is better than owning a big percentage in a small company. Ownership is not my priority but satisfying a need is.” He also has 16 employees on the payroll. So far, the company was self funded, but now they are talking to investors to bring in another round of funding.
The road ahead
The product is still at alpha stage presently. An unofficial launch was done in March 11, 2013. The official launch would be after the FastHacker 2014 on February 1, 2014. They have almost completed setting up FastCashier USA LLC as well. “I must say that competition in Ghana is very low but in the EU, USA and Canada we have to work hard. We even had to hold-back our launch until we researched the competitors. We want our fellow Ghanaians to embrace homegrown innovation and support it. And yes, as days goes by, we are getting a lot of appreciation from Ghana.”